Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

Once again, I’m writing to you from above the clouds at 34,000 feet. My brother, Paul and I are on our way back from Manchester, New Hampshire, where you know what is going on. As you’ll see in my audio and video postings, we’ve spent the last 30 hours in the Granite State watching . . praying . . . and reminding everyone we came in contact with just how consequential this primary vote will be.

The big surprise, of course, was the plummeting of Hillary Clinton from the presumptive Democratic nominee to a presumptive second-place loser. One poll (if you can believe polls) had her down by 13 points. In a minute I’ll give you my take on this from a spiritual perspective, but let me report just a little more:

From what we all saw on the ground, Barack Obama’s people were super-charged. They were bright-eyed, visibly excited, jumping up and down and very, very optimistic about their candidate. On the other hand, Hillary’s people were subdued, at times grim and resigned to her loss. At one dinner sitting, several of her top advisers inexplicably gravitated to our table. These were former top officials in her husband Bill’s administration. They wondered aloud by just how many points she would lose to Obama. (That’s not something any supporter wants to think about.) It took my brother’s gentle but prophetic confrontation of the Clintons’ track record on the paramount moral issues to convince them we were not prospects for their much needed 11th hour support!

(Oddly, I discovered I had more than a couple of mutual acquaintances with these folks. We didn’t get into it because of other things, but two of them told me they are involved in Bible studies in Washington that I have visited. Some day I’ll ask them how they square that with Hillary’s platform.)

I’ll admit now I never saw Hillary’s tumble coming. I had previously evaluated Obama as a shooting star who would go off with a bang but quickly flame out. After talking last year with top-ranking Democratic Party leaders, I was convinced there were so many Hillary IOU’s the Party would never turn on her. I’m beginning to think I was wrong.

There are two ways to view this from my perspective: 1) Hillary is getting her comeuppance (and God is a part of that), and / or 2) Obama, whose policies I believe would be in greater conflict with biblical principles than Hillary’s would be, is a judgment from heaven. Immoral leadership is an instrument God uses to chasten a people.

On the Republican side, the big surprise remains Mike Huckabee, but he’s expected to place only third in New Hampshire. The same network of fundamentalist leaning Evangelicals is not available to him in New Hampshire. Home-schoolers are divided, unlike the situation in Iowa. A lot of New Hampshire home school families are Roman Catholic and have different tastes, including for Ron Paul. That leaves a toss-up between John McCain, who doesn’t appear to me to have any vital faith, and Mitt Romney, who, while LDS, most certainly does.

All this is to say why we gathered with our good friend and frequent ministry partner, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, for a beautiful prayer service Sunday night. Our host was Pastor Gary Hamilton of the First Assembly of God in nearby Aurora, New Hampshire. His worship team led in a beautiful time of praise and many visiting and local Christian leaders exhorted the crowd and led in prayers. My brother Paul led the prayer for the all the candidates. It was not recorded, so I thought you’d like to read it:

“Lord God, men and women strive for high public office for many reasons: only you know their true motives and intentions. In each one is a mixture of willingness to serve others and ambition for power. We bring before you each candidate - Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, progressive. We pray that he, or she, will turn to you for guidance and wisdom. We pray that he or she will acknowledge you as the source of knowledge and goodness. We pray that he or she will defend the sanctity of human life and the dignity of each person - from conception to natural death. We pray that he or she will uphold the sacredness of the marriage of man and women as you ordained it. You have said that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. In this primary election - help the citizens of New Hampshire to rely on their knowledge and consciences well formed by your word, in casting their ballots for the leader who will rely on you and not his or her personal ambition. Let us too heed your admonition not to rely on our own strength or prowess, but to say 'The Lord has given us this victory.'” In Jesus' name. Amen.

Before I took to the pulpit to close the gathering, I surveyed the room and was struck by the breadth of diversity among those that ministered that night. There was Starr Parker, the African-American woman who has lead in so much social development. Joining her was Norma McCorvey, the former Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade and now tireless pro-life evangelist. And young people—lots of young people—from all over the country who have taken up the cause of calling America back to God and ending the horror of abortion. A troop of them presented a deeply moving “human video” (a drama in mime set to music) that left everyone speechless.

I reserved my time to commend Pastor Hamilton for his courage in hosting such a meeting. A lot of pastors—and maybe most—would have been afraid to do so. I led in a prayer that God would multiply Pastor Hamilton’s number. With 30 million Evangelicals and millions more Roman Catholics and other Christians of conservative moral conviction in this country, the Lord has his forces in place. The challenge is in their doing the right thing. Pastors have a lot to do with whether people feel comfortable—or even responsible—to engage the political process. A lot of pastors stay away from the topic afraid of either alienating prospective church members or being bullied by the ACLU. May God give us pastors bold as lions who will challenge and equip their people to be salt and light!

I will not be endorsing a candidate for many reasons, but I did urge the people gathered in Manchester to take their responsibility seriously. They thanked me for it.

Today the people of New Hampshire will vote for who they want to represent their party in the presidential race. The net result will likely be fewer candidates next week. This is the process that’s winnowing out the field. As we narrow our focus we can say more about those who remain. Please pray God’s will be done in today’s important phase of picking our next president.

We will keep watching—and, more importantly—praying!

Your grateful missionary to elected and appointed officials,

Rev. Rob Schenck